The BEST Enchilada Sauce!

Truly the BEST homemade enchilada sauce recipe!  It’s super simple to make, and a million times better than the canned stuff.  (Also be sure to check out my new recipe for Green Enchilada Sauce too!)

The BEST Homemade Enchilada Sauce Recipe

My best tip for how to make a killer pan of homemade enchiladas?

This homemade enchilada sauce recipe. 

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It has been the secret ingredient in my favorite enchilada recipe for years.  And inevitably, every time I make a pan of enchiladas for a dinner party, or take some enchilada soup to a friend with a new baby, or whip up a quick batch of enchilada nachos, or add the sauce to some shredded chicken for Taco Tuesday — someone always asks for the recipe to this magical enchilada sauce.

It’s a million times better than anything you can buy in the can.  And even better?  It only takes about 20 minutes to make, and calls for simple ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry.  Let’s make some!

Homemade Enchilada Sauce Recipe | 1-Minute Video

Chili Powder for The BEST Enchilada Sauce recipe!

Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce Ingredients:

To make this enchilada sauce recipe, you’ll need (affiliate links included):

  • Chili powder: As in, the classic American chili powder, such as this.  This is the main seasoning in this simple sauce, so I recommend buying a good-quality brand.  I sometimes also like to use a 50/50 blend of half chili powder + half ancho chili powder (or chipotle chili powder).
  • Garlic powder, ground cumin, dried oregano, and salt: These will be the other seasonings in your sauce.
  • Oil and flour: To make the roux to thicken the sauce. Any kind of mild-flavored oil or butter will do.  And if you are gluten-free, you can use an all-purpose gluten-free flour blend.
  • Veggie or chicken stock: This will form the broth for your sauce.

Homemade Enchilada Sauce Ingredients

How To Make Enchilada Sauce:

To make this enchilada sauce recipe, follow these simple steps:

  1. Make your roux: Heat your oil (or butter) in a saucepan.  Then whisk in the flour until combined, and cook for 1 minute or so.
  2. Stir in seasonings: Then add in the chili powder, garlic powder, salt, cumin and oregano and cook for 1 more minute.  This will help toast the spices just a bit.
  3. Whisk in broth: Next, gradually whisk in your sauce until most of the clumps have dissolved and the sauce is smooth.  (That said, it’s ok if there are a few small clumps.)
  4. Simmer and reduce: Bring the sauce to a simmer, then reduce the heat and let it continue simmering until the sauce reaches your desired consistency.  I like mine just slightly thickened, but you can let your simmer for longer if you would like it to be really thick.
  5. Serve!  Then once the enchilada sauce has reached your desired consistency, it’s ready to serve!

How To Make Enchilada Sauce

My Favorite Recipes Using Enchilada Sauce:

There are about a million ways you could use this enchilada sauce.  But some of my faves include using it in:

Red Enchilada Sauce Recipe

Also, be sure to check out my new recipe for Green Enchilada Sauce too!  Enjoy, everyone!

This post contains affiliate links.

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Red Enchilada Sauce

My all-time favorite homemade red enchilada sauce recipe.  It’s quick and easy to make, and a million times better than the canned stuff!

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add flour and whisk together over the heat for one minute. Stir in the remaining seasonings (chili powder through oregano). Then gradually add in the stock, whisking constantly to remove lumps. Reduce heat and simmer 10-15 minutes until slightly thickened.
  2. Use immediately or refrigerate in an air-tight container for up to 3 days.  (I like to use mason jars or Weck jars to store this sauce.)

*I consider this sauce pretty mild.  But if you are wary about heat/spice in your sauce, I would begin with 2 tablespoons chili powder and add more from there once the sauce has reached a simmer if you’d like.  Or if you’d like a smokier sauce, I recommend using 3 tablespoons chili powder and 1 tablespoon chipotle powder.

Again, though, this recipe calls for traditional American chili powder, not cayenne.  From the comments, it sounds as though chili powders vary significantly from country to country.  But the traditional American chili powder is fairly mild, and should not be overly spicy.  Some brands I recommend include:

  • McCormick Chili Powder
  • Penzey’s Spices Mild or Medium Chili Powder
  • Spice Islands Chili Powder
  • Simply Organic Chili Powder

If making this recipe gluten-free, be sure to use 100% certified gluten-free ingredients.

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If you make this recipe, be sure to snap a photo and hashtag it #gimmesomeoven. I'd love to see what you cook!

How To Make Enchilada Sauce From Scratch

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1,607 comments on “The BEST Enchilada Sauce!”

  1. I have made this so many times in the past, and it’s delicious every time. Quick question. Is the flour in it only to thicken? I’m doing a whole 30 diet, and I think I could substitute in arrow root powder for the flower if it’s only a thickener.

    Rating: 5
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  3. We are from San Diego and moved to Denver and no matter what people tell us, we cannot find traditional Mexican food anywhere! I have made this sauce multiple times because it really does taste exactly like the enchiladas we ordered back home. I also have multiple requests to make these over and over again from neighbors! It’s and fave and you deserve all the credit. Thank you!

    Rating: 5
  4. I’ll be making this tonight for my zucchini chicken enchiladas! I’m on a diet to help heal my liver and finding enchilada sauce without crazy additives is very difficult! I hope this works! I worry about the gluten free flour as a thickener, all I have is an almond/coconut mix (as I can’t use a rice blend). Do you know if xantham gum would work? I’ve tried using it to thicken gravy’s but it always ends in disaster. So I’m afraid to try that as well. Any advise?

    • Erin Z,
      you can use more of the milder chile powder to help thicken the sauce, if the almond/coconut mix doesn’t do the trick. After you’ve added all the ingrediants and if it is too thin, then add water to the chile powder to make a paste. Then add this paste to the sauce that should be at a simmer. Bring back to a light boil for a minute and back to a simmer.

  5. I’ve made this so many times and it is super yummy. It’s very easy to make too. Thanks for the recipe.

    Rating: 5
  6. The enchiladas I made today were,indeed, the BEST EVER! The Red Sauce was WAY better than anything from a can. Very very good. Kept the recipe and will make it again! Thank you

  7. Wow!!! That was the most amazing enchiladas my family has had. My child is so picky. Literally she picks onions peppers and basically any veggie. She loved it!!! Two thumbs up👍👍

    Rating: 5
  8. Made this and didn’t have enough chili powder on my shelf! I added a bit of cayenne, but not too much. I’m excited to make this again, with the correct amount of chili powder, along with the skillet chicken enchilada recipe.

    Rating: 5
  9. Awesome! Thank you for being here!! Well, I have to have onion sooooo I put half the broth and a quartered onion in the blender before adding it. Next time I’ll add fresh garlic and cilantro to the blender…that should be good. GOOD STUFF! THANKS.
    STEVE

  10. This is my absolute go to recipe for enchilada sauce! We use it a lot. I’ll never used canned again! I add a big blob of plain Greek yogurt at the end to make it creamy (and make more sauce bc there can never be too much!)

    Thanks for the awesome yummy recipe!

    Rating: 5
  11. –have never been inclined to endorse a recipe prior to this!
    amazing recipe in its simplicity, healthiness & flavor!!
    thanks !!!!!

    Rating: 5
  12. Made this for the family and it was a big hit. Loved how simple it was to make. Using it again for the superbowl! Hope our friends like it.

    Rating: 5
  13. Not a huge fan of the child powder flavours so I have some adobe chile in its sauce (it was frozen from being leftover from a previous recipe) I used instead. Its given it a smokier flavour. Very nice recipe. Plan to use again.

    Rating: 5
  14. This is a fantastic sauce.! I did make one little substitution in the sauce recipe. I made the sauce gluten free by skipping the flour. I mixed 1/4 cup of the chicken stock with corn starch. And added that with the rest of the stock. The sauce is smooth and has wonderful color and flavor! Worth keeping some on hand for other recipes but it was amazing in the chicken enchiladas! Thank you!

    Rating: 5
  15. So easy and so delicious. Thank you :)

    Rating: 5
  16. Almost 30 years ago i was a foreign exchange student in Michigan and we had a lot of Mexican food in my american family.
    But for some reason Tex Mex food has never been big here in Denmark, and certainly not Enchiladas. And you can not buy enchilada sauce here, at all..
    Over the years I’ve tried to make it myself, but never got it quite right.. This recipie for the sauce is just perfect though..
    Thank you, I will keep making this whenever I get the urge to “go back” to my Exchange student experience..
    /Torben

    Rating: 5
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  18. Just made this recipe for the first time (to accompany the chicken enchilada recipe) and it was a TOTAL success. SO delicious and easy. It’s going to be our new bulk-prep lunch. Many thanks :)

  19. Can i use chicken broth instead of chicken stock?

  20. Love this recipe! I usually double it to make the Enchilada Soup a day or so later. This time I won’t be making the soup for another week so don’t want to leave the sauce in the fridge. Have you ever frozen this sauce?

  21. This is a wonderful recipe for Enchilada Sauce! I make my own chili powder from dried peppers I get from Mexico each year. Through trial and error (lots of over hot chilli powder) I have figured out which chili;s work best for us.

    Rating: 5
  22. I’m making this tonight for the first time and so far it’s pretty awesome. I find it a bit salty at this stage (it’s still in the saucepan) but that’s probably from the bouillon cubes I used for the stock; I used one chicken and one vegetable. Next time I won’t add any salt and see how that works. But I gotta say this is a very impressive enchilada sauce. Thanks Ali. Looking forward to hoovering this down when it’s all put together!

    Rating: 5
  23. This sauce is the best! I made the enchiladas twice, once with this homemade sauce and the second time with premade canned enchilada sauce and it was night and day! I will forever make my own now that I have this recipe. Thank you!

    Rating: 5
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  25. This is indeed the best red sauce EVER. I’ve made this many many times and the family loves it. Other recipes I’ve found used tomato sauce but I love how this one doesn’t and it taste perfectly yummy. I didn’t have black beans in my pantry so I used corn. Also used chicken thighs instead of breast because thighs are just tastier. Thank you for the recipe!

    Rating: 5
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  29. Best enchilada sauce I ever made. And I used chickpea flour. You don’t need to thicken it anyway. Once you mix it in with the chicken and beans is gets soaked up.
    Love it and will be making it again and again

    Rating: 5
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  31. Thank you for great recepy. Can I freese this sauce in portions for future use? What do you think?

  32. Love this! I’ll never buy a jar again. I usually have all the ingredients on hand. I’m not a huge fan of powdered chili so use an chipotle chili that’s in an adobe sauce. Will cut out the extra salt next time as I use veg broth and I think it has enough sodium in it.

    Rating: 5
  33. This is THE best Enchilada Sauce ever! We like it really spicy so I used one teaspoon of chipotle powder in place of one of the teaspoons of chili powder. It’s also super simple to make. My husband loved it and when we made fajitas the next week he wanted the “special enchilada sauce” for his! Thanks so much for an awesome recipe. I’ll never buy store bought again.

    Rating: 5
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  36. I stumbled across this recipe and liked it because there was no tomato sauce in it. My family is picky when it comes to enchilada sauce so I was a little apprehensive in trying something new. I’m so glad I tried this recipe, the flavor is perfect and my family loves it. I double the recipe and make a huge pan of enchiladas. Thank you so much 😊

    Rating: 4
  37. Ali this sauce sounds AMAZING! I need to make chicken enchiladas for 26 important people at my new job where I just started cooking. They have meetings once a month and I’ve been asked to prepare a meal for them. The date is Cinco De Mayo, I will make your lovely enchilada sauce and the enchiladas too. How much do you think I should increase the recipe to make it REALLY saucy? Your recipe sounds really spot on with the right ingredient combination.

  38. Does this sauce freeze well?

  39. This turned out great! Very flavorful. My mom is very sensitive to spice so I cut the chili powder down to 2 tbsp but when making them for my husband and me I will keep it to 4.

    Rating: 5
  40. Can you freeze this enchilada sauce?

  41. I wanted to love this sauce so much, given the title, but it was not a hit in my family. It lacked flavor and dimension. I was looking everywhere for a simple sauce using what I had on hand, so I gave it one star for its ease. I guess my family is just used to tomato-based enchilada sauces.

    Rating: 1
  42. Does this freeze and thaw well? I have a batch in my freezer and I plan to thaw it out for enchiladas tomorrow but now I’m worried it won’t thaw nicely!

    Rating: 5
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  45. I love this recipe,

    Rating: 5
  46. I make this sauce often (and love it!) However, it never really thickens up for me no matter how long I simmer it. What am I doing wrong? (I usually double the recipe. Could this be part of the problem?) Any help would be appreciated! Thanks!

    Rating: 5
  47. Oh….my….goodness! I made this for my husband because he grew up on Mexican food (I grew up in cheeseburgers and casseroles 😋), but I rarely make any Mexican meals. This sauce is AMAZING! My husband loved it, and kept giving me high-fives for it. Thank you for sharing your recipe!

    Rating: 5
  48. I’m surprised there’s no tomato sauce in this enchilada sauce? I haven’t made it yet but it doesn’t sound like it would taste right – or be red! – without any tomato sauce.

  49. How long can I store this in the fridge or can I freeze it?

    Thanks

  50. Was planning on making this for the weekend and was wondering if I could make a bigger batch of the homemade sauce and can it up for other times. If so, what would be the best way to can it-pressure or water bath, for how long, etc?